Talent advantage should overcome Huskies’ inexperience vs. Hawaii
Washington at Hawaii
Where: Aloha Stadium (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Kickoff: 8 p.m. Saturday
Line: Huskies by 17
At a glance: The No. 25 Huskies enter as the favorites in head coach Chris Petersen’s first game with the program, but they’ll have to overcome inexperience at quarterback, tailback, tight end and in the secondary. Hawaii went back to the drawing board after a disastrous 1-11 season in 2013, with head coach Norm Chow changing the offense to more of a spread style and bringing on a new defensive coordinator in former Utah State linebackers coach Kevin Clune.
Matchup to watch: Washington’s defensive backs vs. Hawaii’s passing attack. The Warriors may have a new offense, but they have always been a pass-first program and that isn’t about to change in the spread. That means the Huskies’ very young secondary – which will start freshmen Budda Baker (safety) and Jermaine Kelly (cornerback) – will be tested right from the get-go. The test will go two ways, though; Hawaii will be led by sophomore quarterback Ikaika Woolsey, who was 11 for 59 with no touchdowns and three interceptions in limited playing last season. He’ll also have to worry about Washington’s star junior corner, Marcus Peters, who was an All-Pac-12 second teamer in 2013.
Key for Washington: Limiting turnovers on offense. Petersen has said sophomore Jeff Lindquist won the starting quarterback gig because of his decision-making and ability to avoid critical errors, so that should speak to what UW’s coaching staff is looking for from the offense early on. Lindquist should have time to make the right throws, as the Huskies’ offensive line is the most experienced position group on the field. That should help the running backs, as well, where four players – Dwayne Washington, Jesse Callier, Deontae Cooper and Lavon Coleman – will share the carries. Having a full quartet of runners means there won’t be much patience if anybody has trouble hanging on to the ball, though.
Prediction: The Huskies will have room to work with on offense thanks to the offensive line, and linebackers Shaq Thompson and John Timu will thrive against an overmatched Hawaii team. Huskies 36, Warriors 13.